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An American Crime (2007)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 21,742 users  
Reviews: 110 user | 52 critic

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

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Title: An American Crime (2007)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
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Reverend Bill Collier
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Marie Baniszewski
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Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle
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Storyline

Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific, leaving one child dead and the rest scarred for life. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of a child's punishment that became a woman's crime. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ellen Page literally starved herself for her role as Sylvia. When director Tommy O'Haver noticed she was looking thinner, he asked her if she was eating and she replied "No, because Sylvia wasn't being fed." See more »

Goofs

At one point during a punishment scene, the shot changes to the neighbors outside, and a fan is visible in an open window. The shot returns to the same view a moment later, but the window is closed, the curtains are drawn, and no fan is visible. See more »

Quotes

Shirley Baniszewski: I thought we were just teaching her.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Downtown
Written by Tony Hatch
Performed by Petula Clark
Courtesy of Disques Vogue and Sony BMG Music Entertainment (France)
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
I couldn't move...
29 August 2008 | by (Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.) – See all my reviews

I collect movies...ALL kinds of movies and have several thousand in my collection...which means I see thousands of movies every year. I'd never heard of "An American Crime" until Netflix put it into my queue as a recommendation. I knew absolutely nothing about the film except for the cast. I'd watch Catherine Keener do a Dairy Queen commercial and give her a standing ovation. Forty minutes into the film, I became aware that I was clutching the arms on my chair. I was short-winded as I'd been holding my breath but didn't know it. I almost cheated and ran the movie fast forward just to see how it would end as I was terrified by what I was viewing. This movie should have been hailed by critics and had long lines outside the box office. Ellen Page and Catherine Keener were superb as was the entire cast...not even a 'walk-on' was miscast. James Franco, stepped out of the box to play an unlikeable character as did Jeremy (Peter Pan) Sumpter. If you love good movies, heavy drama, and fantastic acting...this is one to put on your MUST SEE list. When the movie finally did end. I just cut off my TV set. I couldn't watch anything of equal magnitude, no matter what was showing on any channel. One of the best films of all time...and the most horrifying in my entire collection...bar none!


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The most evil of them all Fleurus
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